** advanced copy received from publisher **
I’m absolutely delighted and honoured to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech today! Many thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda and Anne Cater for the opportunity and my advanced copy!
Author : Louise Beech
Title : Maria in the Moon
Pages : 280
Publisher : Orenda
Publication date : August 15, 2017
Long ago my beloved Nanny Eve chose my name. Then one day she stopped calling me it. I try now to remember why, but I just can’t.’
Thirty-one-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria.
With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges … and changes everything.
Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide.
Good grief. What to say about this exquisitely told story? I postponed reading this one until I was on holiday, determined to savour every word on every page without a single interruption and I’m so glad I did. But it’s hard to find the words to describe how incredibly special Maria in the Moon is and I fear my review won’t do it any justice at all.
Let me just first point out that I’m not really known as the emotional type. Although I have been known to once cry at a nappy commercial but I swear that was a completely unexplainable hormonal thing. That said, there are two authors who always manage to make me shed a tear or two (or ten) and one of them is Louise Beech, who just seems to have this uncanny knack of pulling at my heartstrings until I need a stiff drink. Or two. (Or ten. Who’s counting?)
Catherine has an exceptional memory but for some reason, she can’t remember a single thing about the year when she was nine years old. When she loses her home to a flood, she volunteers at a Flood Crisis Line and bit by bit, things will start to fall into place that will ultimately reveal a devastating memory.
Maria in the Moon is a sometimes emotional, yet at times also a surprisingly witty story. I took to Catherine straight away. Not only do I appreciate a healthy dose of sarcasm but also the level of self-deprecating humour she displays, used to protect herself or hide her innermost feelings. It all just felt entirely relatable. Her relationship with her mother, complicated though it may be, came across as highly realistic and believable. And throughout the story you wonder about the importance of memories and how even things you may have forgotten can have an impact on the rest of your life.
I soon found myself utterly swept away on the waves of this touching and moving tale. Catherine’s story is dark, heartfelt and honest, deeply moving and yet also inspiring. Hers isn’t the only heartbreaking story to be told as callers to the Crisis Line deal with issues of their own. All these characters felt so real, I expected them to jump off the pages. I got so invested in their lives, they stopped feeling like characters but more like real-life people dealing with real-life issues. Not all of the heavy variety but some everyday mundane things as well, like drawers that won’t open or an out-of-control smoke alarm.
I adored both of Louise Beech’s previous novels and was fully aware of her incredible talent. I always feel safe in this author’s hands, blindly trust her capabilities and I will gladly let her lead me wherever she wants. And yet, I wasn’t quite prepared for the effect Maria in the Moon would have on me. It’s so utterly powerful and emotive and it just blew me away. This is some exceptional and masterful storytelling. Maria in the Moon deserves pride of place on everyone’s bookshelf and I shall treasure my copy forever.
Massive thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda and Anne Cater!
Maria in the Moon is available now.
Louise Beech has always been haunted by the sea. She regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012. She was also part of the Mums’ Army on Lizzie and Carl’s BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show for three years.